It was getting cold, especially at night. Wan was sitting against Mula, wrapped up in a blanket, but he still managed to look cold. His breath came out in little puffs of air that Raava could see in the firelight. He was glaring at the flames like it had committed a grave offense against him.
It had been three days since they had left the water turtle and Wan had said no more than three words to her. He would not even look at her. She had broken down to trying to start up conversation, but Wan seemed disinclined to speak to her.
It was hard for her to pinpoint his emotions. She knew enough to realize that he was angry, but he did not seem to be angry at any particular thing. He would not speak to her, but neither would he play with Mula. He did things with more force than necessary, like make fire with flames that seemed to hit the edges of his control. His water was cutting shards, his air were disks that could cut trees in half, his fire was large and hot, and even his earth seemed sharper, heavier. Anger was in every line of his body and churned in his aura like a bruise. Everything he did was short, sharp, precise, and nothing like the usual warmth and kindness that seemed to follow him around.
Raava would be lying if she said she did not miss it. She would also be lying is she said she was not concerned.
"Should we train tomorrow?" she asked quietly.
Wan shrugged, giving her no answer past that.
"We have been traveling for three days. You rest yourself and we can practice in the afternoon."
Wan did not reply. He stared into the flames. His expression had changed since she had started speaking. Less angry now, more sad. She really disliked it when he was like this.
"Are you ill?"
He looked at her, not completely paying attention. He finally met her gaze, or rather he actually looked directly at her diamond instead of some other part of her form. He raised his eyebrows in question, a silent request for her to repeat herself. His eyes never lost that tense anger but she felt that it was not entirely directed at her.
"I asked if you were ill. We can just rest tomorrow, if you want."
He waved her away, shaking his negative. "We'll train," he replied. His voice was quiet and it was not lost of Raava that he did not answer the question of his health.
"But if you are ill, then you should rest."
"Are you angry with me?"
"You seem angry."
There were lines on his face that were not there normally. His eyes were clouded and dark, he had shadows beneath them like bruises. "I believe you are ill."
He shook his head again, starring into the fire.
Raava moved closer, humming slightly as she called on her energies. Wan looked up at her in alarm, moving slightly away. "What are you doing?"
"If you are ill, then I would like to know how serious it is."
Confusion flittered across his face but she relished that it was the first non-negative expression he had had for days. "How?"
"I am the spirit of Light, Wan," she explained carefully. He glared at the implications that she thought he was stupid. She was quick to clarify with a bit of information that she did not think he knew. "I can correct negative energy in spirits and to some extent humans. Negative energy is sickness and injury."
He seemed to absorb that information for a second, before his eyes fell away from her and to the fire. "You can't help me. I will be fine." His anger was replaced by a sudden sadness that left the spirit both confused and terribly discouraged.
"It would seem that perhaps you are not ill physically, but emotionally. I might be able to fix that too."
The anger was back in a flash and Raava made note of how quickly it fluctuated. "I don't need to be fixed, thanks," he spat, his shoulder bunching as he took offense.
She knew she had to tread carefully. Human emotions were delicate and easily manipulated. If she said the wrong thing, she would only anger him more. "Perhaps not fixed then, but helped. If you'd just accept my help, perhaps I can find out what is wrong."
"Oh for spirit's sake, Raava! I'm fine," he burst out, making Mula raise her head. She looked between human and spirit as if preparing herself for another fight. He glared at Raava briefly before bowing his head, letting his fingers prop up his forehead and his arms shield his face from view.
Raava knew hiding when she saw it. She was still learning the careful complexity of human emotions and how they expressed it, but she did know that when humans hid something, they had a tendency to hide themselves as well. Raava realized that Wan knew exactly what was wrong with him. He knew and he was trying to hide it. He usually did a better job than that so either he was being passive aggressive and trying to get it to bug her too, or it was so bad that he simply could not help it. So what was is that Wan was trying to hide? Was he sick and just being stubborn about it? Had he been hurt and not told her? Was he angry at her for yelling at him the other day? Was he angry for another reason? Why did he look so tired? Why was his sleep so restless (because she had noticed that, too)? What bothered him so much that he refused to speak about it?
Wan was not usually a reclusive person. If he had a problem, he usually told her about it. It made their unlikely partnership a little easier. He was forward and when there was an issue he was not afraid to admit it. He was incredibly clever for a human, and it made her respect him. He knew how to get things done, even if he sometimes divulged into time wasting.
She supposed what she had said the other day had been a bit harsh. She knew that humans needed companionship and friends in ways that most spirits simply could not understand. Why else was he always so excited about finding a city? Perhaps spending another day in the city would not have hurt anything. But at the same time, Wan really did not have room for such internal thoughts. The whole world was on his shoulders and he did not have the time to slack off. Every day wasted was a day not spent preparing. What if that one extra day to practice could mean the difference between winning against Vaatu and losing? She knew that Wan was confident in his abilities, not because he was arrogant, but because he was optimistic. She knew that he did not believe himself ready, even though he would often speak of what they would do once Vaatu was defeated. He was being hopeful because that was just who he was.
There were times when she wished that Wan was a spirit because she felt like it was a terrible injustice that a soul as strong as his was housed in such a mortal body. Imagine what he could do with the power of a spirit at his fingertips.
She chased her thoughts away. Now was not the time to be wishing. She had a wayward human to figure out.
One of her bands came forward to wrap around his wrist. She tugged gently in hopes of getting him to uncurl. His reaction was decidedly violent.
"Don't touch me!" he shouted, grabbing the band and yanking down and back so that she was forced to let go. He tossed it away as if it burned him. The force of his glare was enough to hurt her, so much rage that churned behind his eyes. She had the impulse to soothe it away, and not just because she was the spirit of Light and her job was to resolve anger and conflict, but because this was Wan and he was her friend.
Raava was not prepared to admit it, because she did not admit to such things, but she had grown rather fond of Wan. He was her human, and she felt a responsibility to take care of him. It went beyond that, though. She had spent so long with Vaatu always at her side, always darkness beside her, that having Wan there was like a burning fire in the night. She had always had that negativity so close. Wan was nothing like Vaatu. He was hope and strength and determination and she would be damned if she lost him.
"Wan, I cannot help you if you do not let me."
"What if I don't want your help?" His voice was loud and sharp but rough with so many emotions. She wished she could understand. She wished she could feel as he did, so that she might have some clue how to fix it. He stood, waving his arms at her dismissively. "Just leave me alone."
He walked several paces away before Raava had gotten a hold of herself. No! She refused to let him hide away from whatever it was that was hurting him. If she was going to fix it, she would have to pry it from him.
She rose off the ground, surging forward. She let her own fury carry her, let it wash away any hesitation. Now was not a time to falter. The surge of energy when their souls merged was always a rush, like an icy fire, cold and hot, that crashed through their hearts and down their limbs. It was beautiful, it was overwhelming, it was the biggest thrill she ever felt.
His soul was so strong when it wound around hers, tethers of light that grappled and snapped all in a heartbeat. But she stopped; she did not rush through and leave in a breath. No, she waited, let his soul and hers become one for more than a single instant. She let his emotions rush through her. She had been terrified to do this before, but now she welcomed it like a cure to an age old disease.
She nearly regretted it.
The rush was like all the other times they merged for that brief moment when they exchanged elements, but it was different. She could feel him as she never had before. The rush was bitter, threatening to swallow everything. It was sharp and sour that distorted the world. She could hear laughter and it sounded like Vaatu. She could hear crying and it sounded like Ren. Someone was screaming and it was filled with a blinding red haze that felt like poison.
Voices and sensations, noises, smells, and tastes all collided at once. She could feel soft fur beneath fingertips, the sting of tears in the eyes, a lump that could not be swallowed past. She could feel a flutter in her chest, like a baby bird wanting to fly. Violent and suppressing, crushed beneath a weight so heavy. Lungs screaming for air, voices choking and struggling to be heard.
The elements, all of them in a swirl of power like nothing ever felt before. Agony that threatened to consume and an impending darkness that clawed at the edges.
She felt that something was wrong. She was so caught up in the swirl of emotions and sensations she could not see the outside. She reached out, feeling Wan stumble. His legs were rubber beneath him, his knees hurt where they collided with the earth. His heart felt as if it were going to burst. There was agony, like a fire across his skin that ate away at his mind. A darkness and fear that was bitter and sweet and terrifying settled across him.
She was hurting him.
His soul was still grappling hers and although it was strong she could feel it waning. The tendrils of light that linked them snapped more often than they connected. She unwound from him, leaving his body in a burst of light that left her shaken to her core.
The sensations were still there, running trails across her form. Sorrow was bitter, fear was sour. Rage was something entirely foreign, something she never wanted to feel again. How can one mortal being contain so many emotions and sensations and not burst?
She gathered herself, needing to shut out the world for a moment before she could face what it was that she had discovered. She would need time to analyze all of it and find the source of his negative emotions. She turned, preparing herself for questions and accusations.
Wan was slumped on the ground, curling in on himself as if he hoped to protect himself from something. His face was a picture of agony. His hand clutched at the cloth over her heart. He groaned, curling tighter.
Horror drained all the color from the world. She had stayed bound to him for too long. She had hurt him. There was nothing in her mind except the human curled in agony on the ground and the swirl of bruising guilt that washed through her. Echoes of their connection still raced through her. She could almost hear Wan yelling in agony, could almost hear Vaatu laughing at her.
She needed to move quickly. She needed to help him. She needed to soothe that pain from his face because this was her fault and Wan worked so hard to fix his mistakes that he should not have to suffer for hers. She had healing powers. They were weak and rarely used and not nearly as strong of a spirit oasis but they would do in a pinch. She moved forward, intending to wrap him up in her light and quiet the pain raging inside him.
Mula bounded over Wan's prone body, taking vicious swipes at Raava's bands. She gave a mighty growl and hiss and Raava could understand the message clear enough. You hurt him and now you are not allowed to touch him.
Something was taut and straining in her core. Like an emotion that she did not understand, another left over sensation. Guilt? Pain? It certainly hurt. She wanted to cry, which in retrospect was odd because she physically could not express emotion that way.
"Mula, please. I can help him." She did not beg. She never begged. She did not plead, especially with an animal. Right now, however, her pride could take a hike. "Please, let me help him."
The catdeer was having none of it. Her claws dug into the earth, her teeth gleamed in the distant light of the fire, eyes were alight with rage. She stood over Wan like she was a mother protecting her cubs.
Raava moved away. She knew that it was no use. She could overtake Mula if she wanted to. She was the spirit of Light, and Mula was only a catdeer. But she had done enough damage as it was. Mula watched her back away, still with that vicious look in her eye. She watched Raava as if she was the enemy, waiting for her to attack again. Every muscle beneath her fur was rigid and set like a spring ready to be released.
Raava circled slightly, in hopes that perhaps the catdeer would not shift to follow her. The brilliant green eyes never left her, even when Wan made another noise of pain. Mula's eyes flicked down for the briefest of seconds, but were on Raava again before the spirit could even think to move. She prowled over her human, never letting him out from under her.
Wan had curled into a tight ball beneath her. He would twitch, groan, a grimace would flitter across his features, his hands would fist as the aftershocks wracked his body in agony. Raava wanted to help. Mula would not let her.
The standoff lasted for a good minute before Mula finally moved. She shifted her body to lie next to her human, curling her frame protectively around his. Raava tried to move towards them, but the snarl returned to Mula in an instant. Her ears pinned and her teeth gleaming. She did not look like the docile catdeer that Wan rode around on. She looked like a feral beast, with her wild eyes and angry swipes.
Raava kept her distance, folding in on herself in shame. She watched carefully. Wan would tense as the residual energies raced through his body. His face would contort in pain and he would curl tighter still. Mula would lick his face and snarl at Raava if she so much as twitched.
The next hour went by agonizingly slow.
Wan's breath was becoming more labored at time went on. Little puffs of warm air escaped his shivering lips and his whole body was wracked with pain and cold.
It had been brewing inside Raava since she had resigned herself to her vigil. A horrid swirl of emotions that echoed through her whole being. It was like they had all been behind a dam and her merging with such an emotional creature had broken it down. She could feel her own emotions now in such sharp, terrifying contrast.
It was red and black like Vaatu and she hated it. She hated the world and all its cruelty. She hated Vaatu because she could never escape him. She hated Wan for being such a stubborn fool. She hated herself for hurting him.
Bitterness swept through her like an ancient exhaustion. If she lost Wan because of her own stupid mistakes, then she would lose the whole world. How would she ever defeat Vaatu? She stood no chance without Wan.
Despite all of that, the plain and simple truth was that the thought of losing Wan, forever—She did not want to think about it. That light and courage and bravery would be lost forever. There would never be another like him and for him to die would be a great tragedy. It made Raava angrier to think that she could watch him breathe his last, she would see the life drain from him, and it would entirely her fault.
Mula was resting her head across Wan's body, draping herself protectively over him. She had been watching Raava with vigilant eyes, but the anger had calmed.
Raava's anger was not so quiet. It boiled inside of her and threatened to crest out. She had to mentally count down in her head to keep herself calm.
Mula growled low and quiet in warning and it took Raava a moment to realize that it was because her bands had been whipping angrily about her in her increased agitation. She settled close to the ground again, defeated. She apologized quietly and nearly felt ridiculous for saying she was sorry to an animal. Then again, Mula was not your normal catdeer.
"I can help him, if you would only let me."
Mula only growled in response.
"I have healing powers." She paused, finding this a little ridiculous, having to explain herself to a mortal animal. She sighed, slumping in defeat and guilt, like it was dragging her toward the earth. "I just wanted to understand him. I did not mean to hurt him." She had not known that her voice was capable of cracking, so she was nearly surprised when it did. Nearly, being as she was trying to reign in her emotions. "I'm so sorry, Mula. I'm sorry, Wan. I just wanted to help…" It somehow made her feel both better and worse for admitting her shame.
She could not stop staring at Mula, as if waiting for the catdeer to do something. There was something different in the green eyes. Perhaps it was forgiveness? Understanding? Whatever it was, it was a signal.
Raava glided forward carefully, slowly. Mula watched her with wariness, but made no movement that was hostile. It was agonizingly slow because Raava wanted to rush to her human and scoop him up and soothe away all the pain. But Mula's trust, and in accordance, Wan's as well, had to be regained.
She let her bands rest on his shoulder and while Mula eyed her, she did nothing to stop the spirit. She let her energy extend through him, finding and cradling his fluttering life force. It was not as dramatic as soul merging, nor as effective, but it had its usefulness. She could feel his energies raging a painful battle inside him with the residuals of her own. Hers was far more powerful and so Wan was losing the battle. It was like an illness, slowly killing him from the inside.
She almost let her guilt consume her again, but she knew that she needed to remain calm and her thoughts needed to be bright and pure if she wanted to help him. She could save him and that was all that mattered.
She scooped him up into her bands, letting his body rest against hers. Her tail flipped out in front of her and she suspended herself in the air like a giant glowing hammock with a human embraced inside. He stirred slightly at the movement, pain fluttering weakly across the half bond they shared when she touched him.
"Raava…" he whispered and there was relief in his voice. Like a flood of cool water that rushed through her, it brought peace to her soul that she was not expecting.
She hummed as her energies subtly went to work fixing the wrongs she had done.
She had fallen into a deep meditation, concentrating her entire conscious on the human embraced carefully in her bands. She could still feel his emotions through the weak bond, but they were not nearly as dramatic as the merging had been. She could easily differentiate between his feelings and hers.
It was still disconcerting when she would be working to repair the damage done to his body, working the energies to flow through paths that would not hurt him while healing the wounds that had been created, and suddenly a trickle of fear, like a sour taste, would invade her mind. At first she had ignored it. Humans dreamed and sometimes it was frightening things.
But then she could have sworn she saw Vaatu, heard him, could feel his rage and the fear that followed him and it nearly jerked her back to the real world. It took her a moment to realize that it was a dream. Wan was dreaming of Vaatu and Raava really was not sure how she felt about that.
She found the source and washed it away with a finality that struck even her as a bit odd. She was not usually so aggressive, but Vaatu had no place here.
It was like suddenly half of Wan's chi paths opened in a flood of energy and light and goodness. Fear, Raava realized, could hurt so much more than any other emotion. Fear was crippling if given enough hold.
It opened up a few pathways for her send the energy down, and new emotions popped up like flowers blooming in the spring. These were better emotions, neither bitter nor sour, nor that haze like red that Raava had come to know as anger.
There was sweetness, and the taste of noodles, and electricity and laughter and Raava knew that Wan now dreamed of Ren. She let his mind be and concentrated on his chi paths instead, finding a small trickle of satisfaction in her that had nothing to do with Wan.
Some time passed and she felt him stir. She came out of her own meditation so that she could greet him. She broke off the connection with his energies, feeling the seeping of his emotions fade away like water running off a smooth surface.
It was daylight, nearly noon. The world was alive with life around them and Raava could not help but feel content and at peace for once. It was like the pressing urgency of the Harmonic Convergence had left her for the moment. She was happy to rest and let Wan rest with her. Everything would be alright.
She almost laughed because she realized that while she had been influencing Wan emotions, he too had been moving hers. It had been a while since she had felt so much hope and it was a breath of fresh air.
Wan shifted against her, his arms coming up to shield his face from the sunlight and his hands rubbing his face. He moved to sit up, but Raava kept him down and pressed to her. She was not ready to let him go just yet. He was healed, he would survive, but there were still emotions that needed to be sorted through. While the fear she now understood at least partially, she did not completely understand the sorrow or the rage and she wanted to know where they came from before she let him slip away again. He was calm and probably feeling better than he had in a while and she wanted to take advantage of his good mood.
He seemed mildly alarmed for a moment but calmed again in only a second. He looked up at her diamond, then at her bands where they hovered over him like a loose cocoon. He had an odd expression on his face. She could feel his curiosity without the bond. All she needed was to look at his face as he took in his situation.
"What did you do?" he finally decided on asking.
"We merged for more than the second it requires to exchange elements. I wanted to feel your emotions since you would not tell me what they were."
He nodded, accepting that information with a sort of struck confusion. "Did you see what happened?"
"You are angry and I am not sure why, as well as sad. You are afraid because of—"
"No, I mean did you see the elements?"
"I was preoccupied. Humans are incredibly emotional creatures."
He grinned, slowly and mischievously. "Oh Raava, you would not believe it but it makes total sense! When we merged like that I could control all four elements at once. It was… terrifying, and exhilarating. But it hurt a little. Then it hurt a lot."
"I'm sorry, Wan. I was inside of you for too long." She could feel that guilt from last night again, but it was thankfully not nearly as acute.
"I know," he replied with that solid kind of wisdom that he sometimes had. "We have to try it again, but next time you won't stay in so long."
"I'm not sure I want a next time."
"No, Raava, this could help us defeat Vaatu. I want to practice with that sometime. We could use it. Having that much power at my fingertips; Vaatu wouldn't stand a chance!" He had over excited himself, moving in such a way the twisted his core. He winced falling into Raava embrace further.
She almost wanted to scold him, but could not find fault in his enthusiasm, no matter how she felt about the subject. "You will be alright," she soothed quietly, humming again as she tried to find the source of his pain.
"Yeah, I know," he said and the amount of pure trust that radiated out from his words shocked Raava into stillness.
She had just hurt him but he still trusted her. It seemed to wash away the guilt that had risen again. For some reason, she knew that she did not have to make it up to him. Wan was simply not that kind of person. He had forgiven her for whatever wrong she had thought this had been. It left her at peace.
"As far as my emotions go," he said after a minute, shaking Raava from her reverie, "we'll talk about those later." The way he said it told Raava that he had a bone to pick with her, but that he did not seem nearly so angry.
He relaxed into her and she let her energies go back to work. She felt his mind drift away and reconnect with hers and she almost laughed at the thought that her humming was putting him to sleep. Then she sobered when she really thought about it. He was tired and had been through an ordeal. He had not slept well in several days and had been traveling relentlessly in between. He deserved his rest and they would talk later.
She eased into a meditative state as he fell asleep, and that was how they spent the rest of the day, healing and recuperating.
Afterward: These aren't really oneshots anymore, are they? I'm making an actual effort to keep them in chronological order, too. So I guess this is a story now. But it doesn't really have an end yet. And each chapter is relatively stand-alone. But whatever.
I would like to mention that this story is not an official Waava fic. I am personally very conflicted on their relationship, but I don't think it is romantic. I know this probably just scared a bunch of people off, but I think that this story is pretty open to interruption. Even if it was Waava, it wouldn't be very prominent, simply because my romance is often kind of fucked up.
Anyway, thank you to everyone that reviewed. I really appreciate all of the comments. I hope you guys enjoyed this chapter.